i live in a restored downtown building. what’s the best way to do a rooftop garden?
The Gardener’s Answer
Hi Pete: There are challenges in rooftop gardening but the list of benefits goes on and on. Besides the aesthetics factor, simply adding plant material to your rooftop will help reduce energy needed for heating and cooling the building, improve air quality and potentially reduce runoff. Larger plantings can also provide shade. Is this a project the entire building is interested in or do you have a private rooftop balcony? I ask because there are different options for creating green roofs and some are more complicated than others. The least expensive and most common for a homeowner is creating a container garden. The more involved option is to create layers, simulating a natural environment on top of the roof and walkways for maintenance purposes. The plant material would then be planted directly into the top layer of soil. Before adding any plant material to the roof you should make certain that the roof is structurally sound and can handle the additional weight. As far as planting options, we have to take into consideration the increased exposure to sunlight, wind, rain and whatever else Mother Nature whips up. Drought tolerant plants are good options since these plantings will dry out faster than those in a traditional garden. Native are also good options as well as seasonal edibles. Once you decide which type of green roof is best for you, I would be happy to be more specific in terms of planting options.